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Quakers call for Unarmed Forces Day

As the government prepares for its first 'Armed Forces Day', Quakers are busy preparing themselves for peace. In recognition of the essential work carried out by peacebuilders around the world, Quakers in Britain are calling for an Unarmed Forces Day.

In a statement, they say: "Quakers believe that each person is uniquely valuable. They reject the view that governments' responses to the inevitable tensions arising from international relations should be to constantly upgrade weapons and to train in readiness for war. Instead, Quakers advocate putting energies and resources into developing and training for non-military ways of solving conflicts and averting wars."

Kat Barton of Quaker Peace and Social Witness said: "It is widely agreed that conflict prevention is more cost-effective than sending in the armed forces. At a time when public finances are under enormous pressure, instead of celebrating 'Armed Forces Day' Gordon Brown should be investing in conflict prevention and championing the work of the 'unarmed forces' who work tirelessly to build the conditions for peace."

Quakers believe that there is always a choice between working for war and working for peace. They work, locally, nationally and internationally to address the root causes of violence, conflict and insecurity, to promote non-violent approaches to work for peace, justice and social change, to support peacebuilding and peacemaking in areas of violent conflict and to promote disarmament.

Quaker work in Britain includes providing school children with the skills to deal with conflict, working with communities in the north of England to tackle racism and build peace, and supporting the next generation of workers in peacebuilding organisations. British Quakers work overseas to accompany Palestinians and Israelis in their nonviolent actions, to support local peacebuilding organisations in Burundi and to create non-violent peaceful solutions to often bitter and entrenched local conflicts in South Asia.

For more information on the Quakers see:  www.quaker.org.uk

Armed Forces Day (Saturday 27 June) is a new government initiative to raise the public profile of the armed forces. The Armed Forces Day website: www.armedforcesday.org.uk describes it as "an opportunity for the nation to show our support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community".

Peace resources for Armed Forces Day can be found at:

www.ekklesia.co.uk/resources/armed_forces_day